Colleges near Agra sanctuary fined Rs 10 crore

The colleges had violated the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and the Forest (Conservation) Act.

Agra: A penalty of Rs 10 crore has been imposed on two engineering colleges for illegal construction and causing pollution in a bird sanctuary on the Agra-Delhi highway, an official said on Thursday.

The Uttar Pradesh forest department has raised objection to unauthorised buildings coming up near the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, about 20 km from Agra.

Divisional Forest Officer NK Janu told a news agency: "Yes, we have inspected the points from where effluents and wastes were being released into the Keitham reservoir and found them contaminating the whole water body."

"They have put up high-mast lights which disturb the birds. We have sent out notices and asked for immediate remedial measures. Besides, a fine of Rs 10 crore has been imposed."

Janu said the colleges had violated the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and the Forest (Conservation) Act.

The notices were first sent a decade ago but no action was taken to stop the pollutants from entering the water body in the heart of the reserved forest.

The lake is surrounded by a bird sanctuary, a python point, dense forest and the world`s biggest rescue centre for sloth bears.

The buildings have come up without permission, said Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board regional officer BB Awasthi.

The issue came to notice when a member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee, DK Joshi, visited the area last year and discovered that the hostels, canteens and college buildings were releasing waste into the lake, the biggest in Uttar Pradesh.

Joshi told a news agency: "It is amazing that for 10 years the forest department and the pollution control board people were sleeping. Only when I visited the area and demanded action, they sent out notices."

"The police are not registering a FIR," he added.